Rath Lugh and Coillte

By July 12, 2014 at 1:14 pm

Rath Lugh, in the care of Coillte, is home to a large array of flaura and fauna including varied funghi and is also home to Badgers Bats, Buzzards, Hedgehogs, Foxes, Frogs, and a variety of Moths and Butterflies. The following are suggestions from the Tara Skryne Preservation Group regarding the care and management of this ancient Rath.

 

It is the aim of TSPG to see Rath Lugh declared a Special Area of Conservation

Tree Management:

As Rath Lugh is an esker made substantially of deep gravel it is unsuitable for the Beech trees that are planted on its roof. The soil there is nutrient poor and has a fast water runoff. The Beech trees are presently decaying and dying due partly to the fact that they were never thinned out.

During the protests of 2007, Archaeologist Conor Newman warned of the danger these trees could pose to the Mound. TSPG are enquiring as to why nothing appears to have been done to rectify this problem and we request information on future plans by Coillte to preserve the area through specialised planting etc.

It is suggested that these trees should be replaced slowly by smaller trees and shrubs like Elder, Crab Apple,Whitethorn and Furze, while further down on the slopes, suitable planting would include Field Maple, Ash, Holly, and Beech.

The protected area ME-32-025, a National Monument, should be cleared of the invasive and foreign Laurel and colonised instead by Whitethorn, Furze and Elder. The Whitehorn and Elder are currently being driven back by the Laurel.

As previously outlined to Coillte, many of the trees in Rath Lugh are falling victim to pathogens both old and new. No report on this has been made public by Coillte and TSPG hereby request an up to date analysis and Management Plan to be made available to us as soon as possible.

 

Archaeology:

In our submission to the Draft Local Area Consultation Plan, TSPG called for a non invasive archaeological survey of the Rath and the National Monument ME 032-025, commonly known as The Mound of the Druids- as mentioned in the Metrical Dindshenchas.

This area should be signposted for tourists and visitors, displaying a history of the relationship of Rath Lugh to the Hill of Tara. Rath Lugh (being Tara’s premier Outer Defence Fort). Information on known burial mounds, sousterrains and other archaeological features at Rath Lugh and in the immediate area should also be displayed so that the visitor is made aware of the interconnectedness of the ancient historical and mythological landscape of the Tara Skryne Valley.

It is advisable that access to the protected mound be restricted until such time as the Beech tree problem be addressed.

 

St Brighid’s Well

Coillte removed a fallen tree from the roof of this Well in March 2011, and it would appear from ‘before & after’ photographs, contributed to damage of the St Brighid’s Well National Monument.

The flat slab, which acts as the supporting lintel to the roof of the structure, has suffered a large fracture, and is now actually in two separate pieces. This severe damage has left the Well House in extreme danger of collapsing at any point (which would in turn result in the bank & tree that grow on top of it collapsing into the Well); the only item stopping this collapse appears to be a very small slab to the rear inside of the housing, on which these pieces rest.

Repair work to this ancient & revered Well needs to be carried out urgently not only as a result of the above incident, but also due to the fact that lack of maintenance, gaps in the mortar and missing brickwork have resulted in the level of the water dropping considerably due to leakage.

The fractured lintel needs to be replaced or have a supporting beam installed, and the entire Well House needs a major overhaul including re-pointing of existing brickwork, re-building of missing parts of the original structure and raising of the outflow channel. All this will ensure that the Well is correctly sealed & functions as originally designed for visitors to the site.

 

Wildlife Reserve

In our submission to the Draft Tara Conservation Area Plan, TSPG called for Rath Lugh be returned to the people as a wildlife reserve. We would like to see Nature Trails installed to raise awareness of the rich bio diversity to be found here. We propose that trees be marked by Ogham signs and Information plates/displays also be installed. No littering /dumping signage also to be installed.

 

Access

Recent works by Coillte at the entrance to Rath Lugh have given rise to a very serious traffic hazard. It is now impossible for locals, visitors and the frequent tour buses who visit the Rath, to park safely at the entrance to Rath Lugh. Cars coming from the direction of Skryne have a seriously impaired view of the cars/ buses now forced to park precariously because the entrance to the Rath is on a bend. The car park needs to be reinstated for visitors immediately to avoid serious injury or death.

Access pathways need to be redefined and reinstated. Access should be appropriately restricted so that abuse by quad bikes which used to frequently ramble the area is made absolutely impossible.

 

Drainage

The drain at the entrance to Rath Lugh takes the course of the of the roadway and in winter it overflows down into the adjacent Farmer’s field. The entire area, including the entrance and the access road to the right hand side of the Rath becomes waterlogged and flooded. This is due in part to tillage stone material having been dumped there over ten years ago which blocked the drain that crosses the road. The recent works by Coillte have greatly added to this problem ensuring an even more bigger flooding problem in the area during wetter months. This needs to be unblocked, cleared and cleaned up.

 

Boundary Wall

The Boundary wall needs to be repaired and restored. The stone wall was functional as well as being aesthetically pleasing and in keeping with its rural surroundings. It is suggested too that the iron gate put in place by Coillte during recent works be replaced with a wooden gate, as seen in other woodlands owned and managed by Coillte.

It is sincerely hoped that the ugly iron gate is a temporary measure.

 

Voluntary Work

Members of TSPG would like to offer our services free of charge, eg. To install the signage for Nature Trails and to fund that said signage subject to the approval of design etc from Coillte.

It is suggested that it may be possible to avail of conservation groups such as Conservation Fingal who have excellent training on path construction, dry stone wall building etc for the repairs to the boundary wall.

If there is any way that we can be of assistance in any of the above matters we would be more than pleased to do so.

Please do not hesitate to contact us.


photograph is of St Brighid’s Well at Rath Lugh © Carmel Ní Dhuibheanaigh

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